I’m tired of talking and thinking about prayer. When I say that I mean, stop talking and thinking prayer. Let go of different meditations and ways that others have written about. Do what my heart tells me to do when I shut my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and settle into God’s presence. That’s all I’m going to say about it. See where your heart takes you.
If you periodically check in on this aprayerdiary you may have noticed I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. I was on vacation, here at home hosting a family reunion, and then lounging about at Lake Dunmore in Vermont. Now I’m back.
Ever since beginning this blog in February 2011 I have posted a daily quote and blogged consistently. During this short hiatus I had time to consider if I wanted to continue, and if so, how to do it. My conclusions: yes, I want to keep blogging about prayer and faith; no, I do not want to post a quote every day, just once in a while. I want to keep adding to the Word and Imagine, but I may be more casual about that timing as well.
Letting go of these self-imposed fixed routines may be an age thing. Retirement gives permission to slack off, and let’s face it, there are fewer obligation such as child rearing and career. But, I’ve been retired for a long time, so it can’t be that. The age piece is more about my actual age. Being a retired 60 year old is not the same as being one at age 77.
As the days chip away, God becomes present is new and wonderful ways. Through faith and grace, God has slipped into my heart.
“Do not neglect the most important thing, to be concentrated with the mind in the hear,” Theophan the Recluse (1815-94), Russian Orthodox monastic (1815-94) tells me.
Lately I’ve been thinking about forgiveness, but I must admit nothing new has come to mind; just questions and feelings. Maybe forgiveness has no definitive definition or modus operandi; maybe it is found in the heart.
Whenever I hear of a situation in which someone asks (insists) that someone apologize as a condition for forgiveness, I get confused. Who is to forgive whom? Does it matter who forgive first? Does the other person have to accept the forgiveness to legitimize the transaction? Is transaction the right word to us?Whew, I give up! Too much language, too much in my head.
Here’s today’s simple thought. I can’t make someone else forgive; I’m only in charge of what I can forgive, which is contingent on what is in my heart. A place to start is to explore the likely possibility that I have to forgive myself. It might be something I have specifically done—that’s the easy part. Very likely it includes an attitude of judgment, superiority, pride, jealousy—you know the list. As Jesus tells us: take the log out of your own eye first.
Then, maybe, but maybe not, say, “I forgive you; please forgive me,” and leave it at that!
Yesterday I attended the 12:30 Communion service at St. John’s Episcopal church here in Edinburgh. The church is located at the west end of Princes Street Gardens and adjacent to the Parish of St. Cuthbert, the oldest Christian site in the city. The service was held in the Mary Chapel, with four of us in attendance. And yet, it was the most intimate of services. The rector offered many categories of prayers and left time for us to pray through our hearts.
There is something comforting about the familiarity of the Communion service from the Book of Common Prayer, regardless of the Rite chosen for the day. Although I am not Episcopalian, I have attended Eight O’clock Eucharist often enough to allow the words into my heart. This morning these words came to me: Make in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.
After the service, as I walked through the garden, a renewed sense of the meaning of heartfelt came to me.
Tomorrow, December 21, the church recalls and gives thanks to St. Thomas, known to us as ‘Doubting Thomas.” Yesterday, I started celebrating him early. I was totally into my head about God, Jesus, Christmas, and about what God wants me to DO. My heart had left my body. This morning the unnecessary head stuff is gone. Maybe it was the caroling with my church yesterday evening. Singing opens the heart.
My prayer is that tomorrow I will give thanks to St. Thomas without having to reenact his doubting words to the disciples in the upper room, or his experience with Jesus eight days later (John 20:24-29).
I’ve been writing about prayer on this blog for over five years: the who, what, when, where, how of prayer. Here’s today’s summary in the form of a suggestion. Let each of us pray for an open heart. Breathe that prayer right into your heart; don’t think, analyze, or agonize about it; just breathe in and out.
What if everyone in the world did this for one day, only praying to be a loving person? Life would be a miracle.